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UAW leaders to attend State of the Union to protest GM cuts

Keith Laing
The Detroit News
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Washington — Two United Auto Workers union leaders will attend the State of the Union as guests of two U.S. representatives, Democrats from Bloomfield Township and Ohio, to protest General Motors Co.'s plans to cut 8,000 salaried employees, idle four U.S. plants and imperil 3,300 hourly workers.

UAW Local 909 President Ghana Goodwin-Dye of GM's Warren Transmission plant will attend as a guest of U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, and UAW Local 1112 President Dave Green of GM's Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio, will attend as a guest of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan. 

Goodwin-Dye said she is hoping to send a message to President Donald Trump and members of Congress with her attendance at the address about the importance of protecting domestic jobs in the auto sector. 

"Losing our job or moving us out of the area is going to affect seven other people down the food chain, and they're not going to be protected because they are not UAW members," she said, referring contractors and suppliers. 

"It's important to get the message out there that this is affecting families and communities, not just UAW workers," Goodwin-Dye said. "I'm hoping the president steps up and holds GM and other corporations that are shipping jobs overseas accountable. He gave them a tax break so they would keep jobs in the U.S. Instead, they are building facilities in Mexico." 

Green said he is honored to attend the State of the Union on behalf of GM workers who will be displaced from the company's Lordstown plant. 

"I think important for some legislation to be put into the books to help support workers," he said. "GM with the GOP tax cuts, they were given a benefit to save money by shipping cars overseas." 

Green said he is hoping that Trump talks about the GM cutbacks in his speech to Congress on Tuesday night. 

"All we hear is how great the economy is doing, all the jobs being added," he said. "We're not feeling that in Mahoning County. All we have arejob losses. The system is broken for working people." 

GM has been under fire for moving to cease production next year at its Detroit-Hamtramck and Warren Transmission plants in Michigan, Lordstown Assembly in northeast Ohio, Baltimore Operations in Maryland and Oshawa Assembly in Ontario.

Work will stop next year but plants will not officially close. The future of the facilities will be determined during 2019 negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.

Levin said he is inviting Goodwin-Dye to the State of the Union "to highlight the loyal workers of Warren in my district who gave so much to help GM. 

"Ghana, I thought, was the perfect messenger because she is a worker herself, she is a leader there and she's right on the front of the dislocation that is happening with workers," he said. "People like Ghana are trying to build a little bit of a middle-class life." 

Levin said he is angry about GM's plan build its second-coming of the Chevrolet Blazer in Mexico at the same time it's moving forward with austerity plans in the United States. 

"It pisses me off that they're building an iconic American brand in Mexico," he said. "I'm not buying it.

"I'm not asking them to put workers where they don't have work. What I don't accept is GM pleading poverty, saying the market requires us to decrease capacity in the U.S. and increase capacity in Mexico."

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing